John Motley, the oldest son of Robert Page Motley and Emma Sarah Lawrence Motley, who brought their family from Warren County, Kentucky in 1856 to settle on their farm four miles east of Reinhardt, was born September 29, 1877. He was the grandson of Thomas Zachariah and Mary Motley.
John was reared on the family farm on Oates Road and attended schools in that area, later attending Baylor University in Waco.
At age seventeen John Motley was involved in an unusual accident which resulted in the loss of his right arm. He had taken a wagon load of cotton to the Reinhardt gin and while waiting for the cotton to be ginned, he became interested in the ginning process. The lintseed separating stands in those days were open and, noticing that the stand was jammed, he reached in to remove rocks that had stopped the machinery. In some manner the saws caught and severed his right arm. As was the custom of that day his arm was buried in the family cemetery.
On October 16, 1900 he and Eliza Nash, born December 18, 1877, were married in the Nash home on Groves Road four miles south of Garland. To this union were born nine children namely: Emma Grantham, Charlie R. , Fay Tritch, Ressie Isett, Eugene J. , Edna Pearl, Milford E. , Mildred Hamlin, and Joe B. Motley. Edna Pearl died in infancy. As of this date, October 10, 1985, the other eight are still living, the youngest 66 years old. All children chose Dallas County to be their home.
Following their marriage the Motleys farmed in the Reinhardt area. In 1912 they moved to a farm in Grand Prairie where Mr. Motley’s parents had moved earlier. In the fall of 1921 they moved again, this time to their farm near Tripp, Texas, about four miles northeast of Mesquite. Shortly thereafter, at age 48, John Motley died on Halloween night, October 30, 1925. He was buried in the Southland Cemetery in Grand Prairie.
It seems appropriate to comment on the adjustments he made following the accident in which he lost his arm. He was never considered by anyone who knew him to be a handicapped person. He did not become a slave to this loss – he wanted and needed no sympathy for he had an unusually sharp intellect and a fierce determination. He developed unbelievable manual skills. Hunting was a favorite hobby and his marksmanship was superior. He was a successful farmer, a skilled craftsman and spent long hours in his workshop. He was definitely a challenge and inspiration to his family and friends.
After her husband’s death, Mrs. Motley moved to Garland where she continued to rear her small children. She was a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Garland. Mrs. Motley loved to play the. piano and organ. When they lived on the farm she often played while the children and neighbors sang and/or played other musical instruments. Mrs. Motley died January 19, 1974 and was buried alongside her husband in the Southland Cemetery in Grand Prairie.
By Joe B. Motley, son, for Proud Heritage, Volume I by Dallas County Pioneer Association.